Q&A: Stoops on SEC teleconference

MARK STOOPS
“Looking forward to another great challenge, going on the road to play Georgia in Athens. It will be a real challenge for us. Certainly our team is in great need to go on the road and play a very good football game, better than we have the past couple of weeks. Disappointed in the outcome this past week versus Tennessee, but we’ve had a great week of practice so far and looking forward to finishing up this week and, like I said, getting on the road, going down there and playing well.”

On the performance offensive line as a whole: “Yeah, it’s hard for us when we get behind the chains and when we get behind in the score. It’s not what we’re built to do right now, just to try to get into drop-back pass situations. We probably put them in some tough blocking assignments and we didn’t hold up as well as we’d like to. We’re at our best when we have balance and when we’re in closer games and not getting behind obviously, because we’re not built, again, to just drop-back pass. I think when we keep people off balance and run the ball effectively and have our run-pass options off of it, that’s when we’re most effective. So, I think our o-line is a lot like much of our team: a little bit more inconsistent than we want it to be.”

On how much stock he puts in players-only meetings: “I think sometimes – I hope it has a positive effect. It’s nothing earth-shattering, no panic button. Those guys had talked to me. I saw Josh (Forrest) in the building on Sunday, and we were just having a great conversation. Guys were good, in good spirits, and he just said he had a few things to talk to the team. Patrick (Towles) had class on Monday before our meeting, so they waited until Tuesday. Just wanted to talk to the team, so I don’t think it’s anything major or anything like that.”

On Georgia offense’s rough patch: “You know it’s hard for me to put a finger on it. Certainly when I watch them and I see them, I know we’ll have our hands full because they still have the physicality about them that you always identify with them offensively. Probably, I guess quarterback would be the one thing they’d probably admit changing some quarterbacks and I’m not sure what they’re going to do this week. I would expect them to go back with Lambert, but anyway, I think they still, the big thing that jumps out at me always is the running backs that they have, big, physical, strong guys that are capable of ripping off big plays at anytime. So anytime you can run the ball, it sets up some play action pass.”

On loss of Boom Williams this week: “It’s one of the guys we have — that’s the issue when you’re playing these talented SEC teams is they still have some guys that can hit the home run all the time — and Boom was certainly one of the few guys that we have that we feel are complete game changers and can hit the big play and Boom was a big-play guy for us and we’re going to have to have somebody else step up.”

On his feelings on UK’s run defense: “It’s been a different style with the running quarterbacks the past couple weeks, been a different style, but obviously it hasn’t been as good as we’d like it to be in any area. A lot of times it comes down to making that tackle in the one-on-one situations and we’ll certainly need to improve this week heading into Georgia this week because their running backs are still very talented.”

On if Mikel Horton is back to 100 percent mentally, physically after injury South Carolina: “Yeah, I would hope he’s back at full strength and feeling good. He did struggle a little bit and you could tell mentally and physically he was a little off. But he seems back at full strength right now. And I’m anxious to see how he does this week because I thought he really filled in well last week when Boom went down. I’m anxious to see him be the guy this week, and get the bulk of the carries.”

On Boom Williams’ status for Georgia game: “I’m not sure where he’s at. In my mind, we have to prepare like he won’t be available for the Georgia game, but we’ll see how the week progresses. I would still list him as doubtful for this week.”

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at jsmith3@herald-leader.com.

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